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How to avoid falling asleep at the wheel

The daily demands of life often get in the way of rest for many Tennesseans. Busy workloads, class deadlines and other important tasks can easily push sleep to the back-burner. While life is short and it is important to make the most of it, sacrificing rest for other needs can be a dangerous game. These risks multiply tenfold when a sleep-deprived person gets behind the wheel of a vehicle. 

The National Center for Health Research explains the risks of falling asleep while driving, noting that crashes due to sleep issues cost the country millions. The NCHR also reminds its audience that sleep-deprived driving does not simply mean falling asleep at the wheel; it can involve slower reaction times, poor judgment and decision-making and a shorter attention span. Using a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the NCHR shares that one in 25 adult drivers admitted to having fallen asleep at the wheel in the last month. Those most vulnerable to falling asleep while driving include sleep-deprived drivers, those who work late shifts, drivers who take medication and travelers. 

While gauging one's tiredness before hitting the road is always a wise step, the National Sleep Foundation states that, more specifically, seven to nine hours of rest a night is ideal. Maintaining alertness while driving is crucial. Another way drivers can prevent a sleep-deprived crash is by allowing more time to get to the destination. The NSF also advises readers to take periodic breaks, especially while travelling; a break every two hours (or 100 miles) can keep one feeling refreshed and alert. Using the buddy system can also help passengers identify warning signs of sleep deprivation among drivers. Part of enjoying the destination involves keeping the drive itself a safe one. 



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